Fish facing risky decisions stick together

Is there such as thing as “group mind” when it comes to team decisions and if so, how does that impact individual preferences? A new study suggests there might be leadership insights to learn from fish.

Researchers from the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom found that just like in humans, braver individuals led the groups, and that the fish stuck together when making a risky decision.

The study was published in Science Advances, the journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, on Sept. 14.

"This is the first time that the suppression of personality in groups has been linked to its underlying cause, which is conformity in group decision making,” said Christos C. Ioannou, PhD, one of the study authors.

The researchers also found that testing in a group did not have a lasting effect when individuals were retested alone; it was as if the group tests never happened.

"The behavior of the fish seems to be 'plastic' to the social situation—they show consistent individual differences in behavior when tested alone—reflecting personality, but they are also happy to suppress this to be able to stick together with their shoal mates if there are others around,” said Ioannou.

Photo credit: © iStock/fmajor

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